What to consider before moving to a new country

Photo by Tycho Atsma on Unsplash
Photo by Tycho Atsma on Unsplash

Relocating to a new country, leaving behind family, friends and familiar places is hard, no matter if the reason for the move is to experience a new culture, study at your dream university or just pure financial ones.

As someone who temporarily left behind his country and ended up moving to the beautiful city Stockholm, Sweden, I would like to share with you the things I’ve considered before making the big leap and how I’ve tried to make the process smoother.

1. Know your motivation

I think this is one of the most important parts of this article. Without knowing why you are doing it, it will be hard to get used to your new life, enjoy its moments and stay on track both mentally and physically.

Being aware of my goals helps me a lot in the moments when the situation does not turn out as I expect.

Professional development

One of the main reasons why I did not accept a job in Romania, is because I wanted to work on a product. Unfortunately, product development is still in early stages back home, so I needed to look somewhere else. By working at a product company, I can get a much better understanding of the whole business, including sales, operations, and finances.

Personal development

In Stockholm, being a very international city, you can do almost anything. Coming from an environment where the opportunities are limited, it is really fun experiencing a bunch of different things. Connecting with open and smart people, trying out food from all over the world, learning to dance salsa or just hiking in the surrounding nature are just some of them.

Financial benefits

I would lie if I said that I’ve never considered the monetary upsides before moving. Sweden, having high standards of living, makes it easier to save up a lot of money while also enjoying life in the present moment.

2. Try to find a job before moving

I know that this is a hard one, especially if you don’t speak the language. However, leveraging the power of the internet can get you far in getting an offer. I think one of the best ways to achieve this, is through LinkedIn, at least this is what has worked for me. You can connect with recruiters operating in your industry, people working at companies who can get your resume in front of the right people or just search amongst the opportunities posted on the job board.

Having a company on your side will make the whole relocation less stressful. They can help you find an apartment, open up a bank account, get the necessary tax-related documents or just give some of the must-know information about the country.

3. Make sure to visit the place

I’ve almost moved to Stockholm without even visiting the place and that might have been a bad idea. Kudos to Martin, our CEO, who did not let this happen 🙏.

Even a short visit of a couple of days, can get you an overview of the city, give you the possibility to talk with the locals and decide whether it is a place you can imagine yourself living at.

If you can manage to find a company beforehand, it is even better as you will achieve two things in one shot. First, they might fly you out for the onsite interview and second, you will have the chance to meet your future colleagues. This could definitely make the whole process more comfortable, as you will manage to eliminate some of the unknown factors from the moving equation.

I must say, that visiting a place for a few days is totally different from actually living there. As no city is perfect, you will discover the hidden gems and the imperfections after spending more time there.

4. Make connections

Having friends to hang out and share experiences with is an important thing for everybody, especially if you are in a new place where nobody knows you.

But how do you deal with this situation?

Now, this is a question for which there is no easy answer. It depends a lot on your personality, the country and city you moved to and the type of work you are gonna do.

However, thanks to the internet, this is much easier than it used to be. Applications like Meetup, Couchsurfing, Internations, Instagram and different Facebook groups make it possible to connect with hundreds of people and attend a bunch of different events on almost any topic.

Apart from the internet, you can also try to join a language school, dance classes or board games events, just to mention a few.

5. Costs of living

I think this point affects more people who are coming from a low prosperity country, are going to study or will not have a job lined up. Starting out is difficult, no matter what your situation is, but if you are in one of the three situations mentioned before, it will be somewhat harder.

However, if you have money saved up to cover the months when you will not receive any income, you will be fine. Just make sure to be aware of what and approximately how much these costs could be.

After the initial ”shock” is over and you manage to get a decent income, usually everything should work out. Even if a country has high costs of living, the wages will be in most of the cases adjusted to them.

6. Learn the language

Depending on your work and country, you may get by with speaking only English. However, learning the local language will be super important, no matter where you go. Interacting with people in their native language will make you feel included in society. Even in Sweden, where everybody speaks perfect English, I feel that it would be much easier to be part of the local communities if I would know the language.

Attending a language school might be the fastest and most effective way to master the language. You can even make some new friends on the way, likely there will be other students facing similar challenges as you and will be more than happy to chat with you. If you have a job, you can even ask your company to help you out.

As I was traveling quite a lot and attending a course takes a lot of time, this was not an option for me. However, I managed to get quite far only with Duolingo. It is really convenient to learn with this app, as you can do it anytime from anywhere, you just need to be persistent and do it every day at least 15—30 minutes.

Consuming content in the given language and having actual conversations will speed up the process, no matter what way you choose.

Final thoughts

I need to mention, that this list just gives you information about what I personally considered before moving to Stockholm. Apart from the six points mentioned, there are also the obvious things like your relationships, political and economicstability ofthe country, housing and the weather for example.

I can highly recommend everyone to try out living abroad, even if it is only for a short period. It is a fantastic experience and it makes you grow as a person tremendously.

Thanks for reading! 🙏

Róbert Istók
A personal blog by Róbert Istók about coding, traveling, habit building, and much more (Psst... I am open to opportunities.)